Award Year: 2020

Highland Elementary School

14001 Pilot Knob Road
Apple Valley, MN, 55124-6602

(952) 423-7595

Mr. Chad Ryburn, Principal at time of Nomination

Rosemount-Apple Valley Eagan School District

School Website


Parents, community, and staff work together to develop lifelong learners and contributing members of our society. At Highland Elementary, we envision a school in which staff: demonstrates accountability for each student through ongoing assessment, regularly collaborates within and between teams, addresses the needs of the whole child, including academic, social and emotional development, researches and implements "best practices," all while working together toward common goals, and welcomes and utilizes the involvement of our parents and community.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 8%
  • White: 69%
  • Hispanic: 7%
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
  • Asian: 9%
  • Native American: 1%
  • Two or more races: 5%
Highland Elementary Superheroes promoting positive behavior at a student assembly.

Highland Elementary "Superheroes" promoting positive behavior at a student assembly.

Highland has a two-fold approach of technology and use of outdoor spaces to make distance learning work in our school and district. It became immediately clear that technology is vital to lessen the digital divide between different socioeconomic groups for distance learning. Our focus has been making sure every child in our district will have an iPad and internet access in preparation of the continuation of hybrid and distant learning.

Secondly, our school has made excellent use of unique outdoor learning spaces. We built an Environmental Learning Garden at our school in 2006. It was a community effort to make a dedicated space for learning about science, weather and ecosystems. We also added four large raised-bed vegetable gardens connected by a pergola for an inviting space of exploring. The students plant and take care of the gardens in the spring. They learn about seeds, germination, soil, water and life cycle of plants and butterflies. They also experience the joy of watching plants come through the soil. In the summer, the students in the summer daycare program and local Scouting organizations take care of the garden and we incorporate service learning in our garden by donating produce to a local food shelf. We hope this fosters a lifelong love of gardening as well as a sense of service learning. With Covid-19, we are also planning on utilizing all of our current outdoor areas for outdoor classes as we start the new school year. Fall is beautiful in Minnesota and we will spend time outdoors taking advantage of our unique outdoor learning spaces.

The submitted photo shows a picture of our Highland Elementary "Superheroes" promoting our positive behavior philosophy at one of our Appropriate Behavior Counts student (ABC) assemblies we have throughout the year.